Bid to build new home on greenbelt land near Thornbury backed by councillors
COUNCILLORS have backed a couple’s bid to build a brand new family home on green belt land after their barn conversion went wrong.
Natalie and Mark Robbins bought land at Mumbleys Farm, near Thornbury, with the intention of turning a barn on the site into a “modest family home”.
National planning policy allows agricultural buildings to be converted for residential use.
But a “mistake” during the conversion saw so much of the steel barn demolished that Mr and Mrs Robbins lost their “class Q permitted development rights”.
They pleaded with councillors on February 6 to let them build a home on their land at Sweet Water Lane, between Thornbury and Elberton, saying they had been wrongly advised and now faced “financial ruin”.
“If planning is not granted it will have a devastating effect on our family and future,” Mrs Robbins told the planning committee.
But a planning officer argued that there were no special circumstances in this case to justify making an exception to the rule that there should be no new residential development on the green belt.
The committee heard that the couple had the support of a number of local residents and local councillor Matthew Riddle.
In a statement read out to the committee, Cllr Riddle said he believed the barn’s loss was a “genuine mistake” and that the couple’s plans would provide “much better landscaping and appearance than the Class Q permission and the existing arrangement of old, redundant farm buildings”.
Members mostly argued in favour of allowing Mr and Mrs Robbins to build their new home.
Brian Hopkinson (Con, Bradley Stoke Central) said it was “common sense” in this case. “On balance, I don’t see there’s a problem with putting this application through,” he said.
But Katie Cooper (Lab, Staple Hill and Mangotsfield) said she was worried about setting a precedent for future applications on the green belt.
“It’s the green belt that we’re meant to be protecting the most,” she said.
Members voted six to two in favour of granting retrospective permission to demolish the barn and build a detached dwelling in its place.
They cited “very special circumstances”, such as the opportunity to landscape the land in a way that enhanced its appearance, which outweighed the harm caused by building on the green belt.
A final decision will be made by the council’s spatial planning committee, at a date yet to be set.
Under council policy, the higher level committee must consider the proposal afresh because the first decision went against officer recommendations.
Class Q permission is a form of permitted development which was introduced in 2014 and allows the change of use of certain buildings from agriculture to residential use.
By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service